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Meet The Brave Veterinarian Who Risks His Life To Rescue Animals From War Zones

Being trapped in a cage as active combat rages around you is actually the terrifying reality for zoo animals living in war zones. Veterinarian Amir Khalil(52) is trying to save as many as he can while risking his own life rushing into trouble spots around the world, treating and evacuating starving and injured animals. Here is his amazing story. 

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    On 11 April, 2017, a flight landed in the international airport of Jordan, carrying a bear called Lula and a lion called Simba, the only two surviving animals from Mosul zoo in Iraq.

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    More than 40 other animals had died during the fight – either caught up in the bullets and blasts or from starvation.


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    Then, a few months later, on 10 August the same airport welcomed five lions, two tigers, two bears, two hyenas and two husky dogs from the Magic World – a zoo just outside Aleppo, Syria, who managed to survive six years of civil war.

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    These stories are only part of the daily life routine of Amir Khalil, a vet who works for Four Paws, an Austria-based animal-rescue organization and the instigator of both operations.


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    Khalil and Four Paws have made rescues from such dangerous places as Myanmar, Syria, and Iraq. The largest rescue to date is from a neglected zoo in Rafah, Gaza, where 47 animals were taken and brought to safety in Jordan and South Africa:

    That's what he said about the operation on this interview: "On 7th April 2019, the rescue team transferred 47 zoo animals out of the Gaza Strip. The animals – including five lions, a hyena, several monkeys, wolves, porcupines, foxes, cats, dogs, emus, ostriches, and squirrels – come from a neglected zoo in Rafah in the south of Gaza. The rescue mission was originally scheduled for the end of March but had to be postponed due to ongoing unrest in the region. FOUR PAWS brought most of the animals to Jordanian wildlife sanctuaries with two of the lions to fly on to South Africa today, 8th April. There they will live in species-appropriate enclosures". 


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    Great Big Story caught up with this brave vetrinarian:

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